Now You’re One of Us

So, Noriko got married. It was sort-of an arranged marriage, but it worked out. The guy was really sweet and caring, and it didn’t hurt that he came from a rich family. Noriko got to leave her little hick town and move to an opulent compound in Tokyo. Three generations of the Shito family all lived there together, and they were all just as sweet and caring as could be.

Then Noriko began to feel that something was terribly wrong.

This is supposed to be one of those taut psychological thrillers. In brief: Noriko gets suspicious. The family calms her down. Repeat for 200 pages, then spring the big reveal. If you didn’t see it coming from round about Chapter Four, you’re clearly far too innocent for this world. The novel ends with a nice tight U-turn, but what was supposed to be shocking mostly comes across as simply icky.

The sparse, measured language of this English translation works well in the early part of the book, but later it feels at odds with Noriko’s paranoid freak-outs. Maybe it’s tauter in Japanese. (Derek Winkler)

by Asa Nonami. $16.95, 239 pgs, Vertical Inc., 1185 Avenue of the Americas, Floor 32, New York, NY 10036, vertical-inc.com

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